For Excelsior residents who avoid local government meetings for fear they’ll be too dry, the City Council is offering a refreshing alternative.
Instead of the usual council chambers location, Monday’s meeting will be at the Excelsior Brewing Co., 421 3rd St., where attendees can quaff a cold one while contemplating the merits of establishing a historic homes overlay district.
“Hey, it’s Excelsior!” said Council Member Dale Kurschner, a reference to the Lake Minnetonka community’s often festive culture.
Call it ale and agenda items. Or hops and housing ordinances. Or taps and tax-increment financing. Or … OK, never mind.
In any case, officials said the goal is to encourage citizens to get engaged about local affairs by discussing issues in a casual, even fun environment.
City Council and mayoral candidates campaigning in last fall’s election heard residents say they felt disconnected from the council, said Mayor Todd Carlson.
“By taking it to the community, we’re really trying to break down those barriers a little bit,” Carlson said. “The brewery is one of the central gathering places in Excelsior, so we thought that would be a good place to have our first try.”
Patrick Foss, a partner in the brewery, agreed. “We do City Council better than anywhere else in the state, I believe,” he said.
Foss was joking — Excelsior officials said they haven’t heard of other cities meeting at breweries — but Excelsior Brewing does have a history of hosting civic events.
The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society holds regular events there. The brewery hosted candidate forums before the election, moderating the discussion and opening the floor to questions from the public.
“It really just takes the stuffy out of city government perceptions,” Foss said.
The council is planning to meet a few other times this year outside City Hall: in the Excelsior Commons band shell, the Waters of Excelsior senior residence and at a local apartment complex, Carlson said.
Though citizens are welcome to consume the brewery’s offerings during the meeting, council members will not be making important civic decisions under the influence, Carlson said.
“The council won’t be drinking beer,” he said. “Certainly not during the meeting.”